The servant goes above the master: satire from the Reformation of Christ on a donkey and the pope on horseback. Oil on panel. Insribed: Hier bij so schijnttet dat in staet. den knecht booven de meester gaet. Date: from 1600 until 1624. Source: Museum Catharijneconvent Author: Anonymous. Public Domain.
The servant goes above the master: satire from the Reformation of Christ on a donkey and the pope on horseback. Oil on panel. Insribed: Hier bij so schijnttet dat in staet. den knecht booven de meester gaet. Date: from 1600 until 1624. Source: Museum Catharijneconvent Author: Anonymous. Public Domain.

The webliography contains classical and contemporary texts of Marxist critics on religion, as well as historical analysis of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.


Indhold

Foreword

General on Religion

The Classics

On Islam

On Christianity

On Judaism

Appendix: On the Bolsheviks and Religion


 

Foreword

This webliography on the attitudes of socialist to religion is a small counterweight to the renaissance of religion in the public sphere.
The webliography contains classical and contemporary texts of Marxist critics on religion, as well as historical analysis of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Bjarne A. Frandsen. October 2006. Revised March 2019.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
Karl Marx: Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1844). Quotation from Marxist Internet Archive.


See also at Socialists Library:

Subject overview: Religion, with all link collections on the subject
Link collection: Socialister om religion – literature on religion in Danish
Link collection: Om Bolsjevikker og Religion – On the Bolsheviks and religion
Link collection: Religionskritiske bøger – newer non-socialistisk litterature i Danish and English

Religion

 

General on Religion


 

Collections of articles

International Viewpoint

Debate: Marxism and Religion

Reds – Die Roten

Section: Religion

Workers Liberty

Featured Topics: Religion & Politics

World Socialist Web Site

News & Analysis: Religion


 

Articles etc.

Against the Current

Terry Eagleton: The God Question (No.136, September/October 2008)
“Why has my local bookshop suddenly sprouted a section labeled ‘Atheism’? Why, just as we were apparently moving into a post-metaphysical, post-ideological, even post-historical era, is theology breaking out all over the place? Can we put it all down to fanatical Islamists and falling towers?”

Fourth International

Felix Morrow: Religion: its social roots and role (1932) (Vol.5, No.6, June 1944) + Part 2 (Vol.5, No.7, July 1944)
“One of the strengths of the essay that follows is the author’s insistence that religious ideas are rooted in an attempt to come to terms with the material world, rather than simply representing a reactionary set of ideas.”

Frontline

Beyond Belief: a new approach to Atheism (Vol.2, No.6, March 2008)
“With debate about religion seldom out of the headlines Nick McKerrell asks if it is time for atheists to stand up and be counted.”

Historical Materialism

Alberto Toscano: Beyond abstraction: Marx and the critique of the critique of religion (pdf) (Vol.10, No.1, 2010, p.3-29)
“This article reconsiders Marx’s thinking on religion in light of current preoccupations with the encroachment of religious practices and beliefs into political life.”

In Defence of Marxism

John Pickard: Religion and secularism (27 April 2011)
“As the twenty-first century progresses, there has been an increasing interest and not a small amount of debate on the role of religion in society and particularly on advances in secularisation.”

Alan Woods: Marxism and Religion (Audio, 20 February 2009)
“Alan Woods talks at the IMT Winter School in Berlin … [and] explains the materialist conception of the world, integral to the theory of Marxism, and contrasts it to the idealist perspective that gives rise to religion.”

Alan Woods: Marxism and Religion (July 22, 2001)
“Religion is what Marxists would call a false consciousness, because it directs our understanding away from the world and towards an otherness, about which we can know nothing and about which it is useless even to ask questions … In the struggle of science against religion – that is to say, the struggle of rational thought against irrationality – Marxism sides wholeheartedly with science. But there is more to it that that. The whole purpose of acquiring rational knowledge of the world is to change it.”

International Socialism

Roland Boer: The full story: on Marxism and religion (Issue 123, Summer 2009, p.161-179)
“[John Molyneux’s] section on Marx is as interesting for what it doesn’t say as for what it does … In fact, what I would like to do is bring Engels back into the discussion, since he is more important that many of us realise.”

John Molyneux: More than opium: Marxism and religion (Issue 119, Summer 2008, p.51-73)
“… a deficient, mechanical or one-sided understanding of the Marxist analysis of religion has been a substantial contributing factor to a number of left individuals and groups completely losing their former political bearings and ending up as left apologists for imperialism.” In Norwegian: Mer enn opium: marxisme og religion (Rødt! nr.3, 2010, p.36-55)

Paul Blackledge: Not just opium (Issue 113, Winter 2007, p.191-194). Review of Scott Mann, Heart of a heartless world: Religion as ideology (Black Rose Books, 1999)
“Mann’s book includes fascinating discussions of how the image of god changed through history; from the worship of the goddess in pre-class societies in Europe to the overthrow of this religion and its replacement by male gods following the emergence of class societies after the last ice age. He also has interesting things to say about the rise of Catholicism and Protestantism, and even an entertaining, if speculative, discussion of Jesus.”

Neil Davidson: Enlightenment and anti-capitalism (Issue 110, Spring 2006, p.85-112)
“The Enlightenment was an intellectual and social movement which, like the Renaissance and the Reformation before it, characterised a specific historical period, in this case beginning in the middle decades of the 17th century and ending over 200 years ago, at the end of the 18th century. Yet it remains at the heart of current concerns in a way that, for example, Reformation debates over predestination do not. The Enlightenment remains a contemporary issue and not merely a historical one.”

International Viewpoint

Freedom to criticize religion is a touchstone of free expression (Issue 452, September 2012)
“While Gilbert Achcar strongly condemns Islamophobic hate material, he rejects any curtailment of free speech in the name of preventing blasphemy. ‘Freedom to criticize religion is a major touchstone of the right to free expression’, he says in an interview with Farooq Sulehria.”

Gilbert Achcar: Marxists and Religion: yesterday and today (15 October 2004)
“Achcar’s survey ranges from basic principles, the disputes over the hijab, to the policies of the French and British far left organisations – some of which he finds ‘unacceptable from a Marxist point of view’.” In Swedish: Marxister och religionen – igår och idag (pdf) (Marxistarkiv.se)

Labour Review

Cliff Slaughter: Religion and social revolt (Vol.3 No.3, May-June 1958)
“For the understanding of some of the great problems of human history, the study of religion is a necessity. What is the relationship between the social divisions among men and their beliefs about the nature of things? How do ruling classes ensure long periods of acceptance of their rule by those they oppress? … It was out of the examination of questions like this in the German school of criticism of religion that Marx emerged to present for the first time a scientific view of society.”

Dave Holmes: Marxism, socialism & religion (June 2010)
Introduction to Marxism, Socialism & Religion (Resistance Books, 2001): “The focus is on Christianity and the European experience but the basic points made have a universal relevance for our understanding of religion and the fundamental considerations determining the way in which the revolutionary socialist movement should relate to it.”

Marx Myths and Legends

Cyril Smith: Karl Marx and religion (March 2005)
“In this article, Cyril Smith explores Marx’s attitude towards criticism of religion – ‘the prerequisite of all criticism’.”

The Meek and the Militant

The Meek and the Militant: Religion and power across the world. By Paul N. Siegel (London, Zed Books, 1986, 229 pages)
“It is time … to review the classical Marxist analysis of religion in order to understand what it says and what it does not say. Such a review will enlighten religious believers and others who are sincerely concerned with understanding the Marxist view of religion.”

Monthly Review

John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York: Marx’s critique of heaven and critique of earth (Vol.60, No.5, October 2008)
Chapter 5 of the author’s book Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present (Monthly Review Press, 2008)

MR Online

Roland Boer: The ethical failure of Terry Eagleton (September 22, 2010)
“Eagleton offers both a truncated theology and a dismembered socialism. Ethics becomes nothing more than a code of life for the religious left, or rather a much more spiritual left.”

Alexander Saxton: Marxism and religion: the break from Hegelian idealism (December 7, 2006)
“This essay is excerpted and adapted from Chapter 11 of his new book Religion and the Human Prospect (Monthly Review Press, 2006).”

Freedom from religion. An interview with Alexander Saxton
by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (November 9, 2006)
Debate: Louis Proyect: Socialism and religion: what Marx believed (The Unrepentant Marxist, January 2, 2007).

New Politics

Roland Boer: The dilemma of freedom of conscience: Lenin on religion, the national question and the Bund (No.54, Winter 2013)
“Freedom of conscience first comes to the fore in Lenin’s texts with respect to religion. Despite all his castigating of religion as both result of and contributor to suffering, as a feature of human existence that would be overcome through revolution and education, Lenin had to deal with a central platform of European Social Democracy.”

New Socialist

Michael Löwy: Marxism and religion: opiate of the people? (Issue 51, May-June 2005)
“The Marxist view of religion has been greatly over-simplified, typically identified with the well-worn refrain that it’s the ‘opiate of the people’. In this article, Michael Löwy challenges this misconception, and presents us with a richly nuanced view of Marxism and religion.”

Socialism and Religion

Socialism and Religion. By F.A. Ridley (The Engels Society, the late 1940s / Rationalist Socialist League, 1997, 39 p.)
“… religion has not died out. On the contrary, in many respects, it has increased its power. And it has done this because religion is not only an intellectual but a social product.” See review by Chris Gray (Revolutionary History, Vol.7, No.2, 1999)

Socialism Today

Niall Mulholland: Religion and society (Issue 114, Dec-Jan 07-08)
“New Labour’s promotion of ‘faith schools’, disputes over public display of religious symbols and clothing, the ‘war on terror’ and political Islam, the Buddhist monks’ ‘saffron revolution’ in Burma”¦ religion and religious-related issues are regularly in the news headlines. As The Economist magazine recently remarked, ‘These days religion is an inescapable part of politics’.”

Socialist Register

Gilbert Achcar: Religion and politics today from a Marxian perspective (pdf) (2008, p.55-76)
“Two of these have received a lot of attention in recent years: Christian theology of liberation and Islamic fundamentalism. A comparative assessment of these two phenomena from the standpoint of Marxist theory, enriched by further inputs from the sociology of religions, is a particularly challenging and politically enlightening endeavour, as I hope to establish.” In Swedish: Religion och politik idag från ett marxistiskt perspektiv (pdf) (Tidsignal, nr.11, 2010, 14 s.)

Socialist Review

Neil Davidson: Reason, faith and revolution (Issue 337, June 2009). A review of Terry Eagleton’s book (Yale University Press, 2009)
“In this very welcome contribution to the current debate on religion, Terry Eagleton has two central objectives. One is to dismantle the pretensions of leading figures among the New Atheists, above all Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whom he conflates into a single entity called ‘Ditchkins’.”

Neil Davidson: The threat to reason (July/August 2007). A review of Dan Hind’s book (Verso, 2007)
“This is a powerful counterblast to the vulgar reductionism and mock radicalism of the pseudo-enlightened tomes which are currently cluttering our bookshops.”

Socialist Worker

Religion – is it just ‘the opium of the masses’? (Issue 2485, 5 January 2016)
“For some, religion lies behind conflict and oppression. For others it’s a comfort. Sadie Robinson looks at the complex reality.”

Anindya Bhattacharyya: Marx and religion (Issue 1990, 4 March 2006)
“A careful examination of Marx’s writings on the subject reveals that while he certainly criticised religion, he was equally scathing about liberals who elevated criticism of religion over all other political concerns.”

Trotskyist International

Religion and the tasks of the revolutionary party (No. 12, Sept/Dec 1993)
“Religious movements are on the rise across the world. What is religion and how do Marxists fight it? Mike Evans reviews the revolutionary approach from Marx to Trotsky.”

Weekly Worker

Religion: Painfully detailed origins. By David Douglass (Issue 979, September 26, 2013). Review of John Pickard, Behind the myths: the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (AuthorHouseUK, 2013, 492 p.)
“This is a thoroughly researched and painfully detailed review of the origins of Judean, Christian and Islamic belief, based upon archaeological evidence, historical documentation and comparative histories.” See also review by Tom Trottier (In Defence of Marxism, 9 October 2013)

The sigh of the oppressed, Part 1 + Part 2 (Issue 867, May 26, 2011)
“Jack Conrad examines Marx and Engels and their criticism of passive materialism, theological atheism and religion.”

Earthly core of misty creations (Issue 790, October 22, 2009)
“Camilla Power addressed the CPGB’s Communist University on the origins and evolution of religion. This is an edited version of her speech.”

Adjunct of the state and an enemy of socialism (Issue 731, July 24, 2008)
“Jack Conrad explains why nowadays religion has no progressive role and why non-religious Church of England property ought to be confiscated by a CPGB government.”

Supernatural and material force (Issue 714, March 27, 2008)
“Chris Gray reviews Jack Conrad’s book Fantastic reality: Marxism and the politics of religion (JC Publications, 2007, 528 p.)

The sigh of the oppressed (Issue 658, February 1, 2007)
“Gerry Downing looks at the origins of monotheism and assesses the attitude of communists towards believers.”

Fantastic reality: Marxism and the politics of religion (Issue 653, December 14, 2006)
“Extract from the introduction to Jack Conrad’s new book (JC Publications, 2007, 528 p.)”

History and fantastic reality (Issue 584, July 8, 2005)
“In an excerpt from the introduction of forthcoming book ‘Religion : communist approaches and analysis’, Jack Conrad argues that those who would change the world must get to grips with the role of contemporary religion and how it comes down to us.”

Secularism, what it is and why we fight for it (Issue 577, May 19, 2005)
“Jack Conrad looks at the origins of secularism, pseudo-secularism and how the SWP got very confused over the question.”

Karl Marx and religion, Part 1. By Michael Malkin (Issue 365, 21 December 2000) + Part 2 (Issue 369, 1 February 2001) + Part 3 (Issue 373, 1 March 2001) + Part 4 (Issue 377, 29 March 2001)

What Next?

Andrew Coates: In defence of militant secularism (No.29, 2004)
“A strange alliance has arisen: from conservative members of the Muslim Association of Britain, the SWP, to London’s Mayor, all are in an uproar about ‘Islamophobia’ … All are reactionary responses to the secular view, which is at the centre of anti-racism.”

Ian Birchall: So what is secularism? (No.30, 2005)
“I don’t question Coates’ sincerity as a socialist. I just think he is wrong. To begin with the Enlightenment. Coates is absolutely right to defend the Enlightenment tradition (widely repudiated by post-modernism). But the Enlightenment must be understood in historical terms.”

Andrew Coates: An enlightened response to Ian Birchall (No.31, 2005)
“Birchall fails to grapple with the nature of political secularism, its philosophical roots, the account of the French secular education system is hopelessly skewed, and his belief that Respect is ‘secularism in practice’, is wholly misguided.”

Workers Liberty

Sean Matgamna: Political Islam, Christian Fundamentalism, Marxism and the Left today (4 October 2013)
“The question of how socialists relate to religion, including to those religions which criticise aspects of capitalism, is again of great importance.”

Paul Hampton: The truth about Marxism and religion (3/90, 23 March 2006)
“An article, ‘Marx and religion’ in Socialist Worker (4 March 2006) argued that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were not very hard on religion … The article is largely rationalisation, reading back into history the SWP’s current politics of courting some Muslims organisations. It fails to represent the complexity of Marx and Engels’ views on religion.”

Max Shachtman debates Charles Owen Rice: Fighting sin or fighting capital? (1948) (3/1, February 2006)
“Most of the issues posed to Marxists now by political Islam are there in Shachtman’s confrontation with political Catholicism. The Catholic priest, too, is a critic of capitalism, as historically was the Catholic Church.”


 

Facts

Religion (Wikipedia.org)

Criticism of religion (Wikipedia.org)


 

The classics

Marx and Engels on religion

Marx and Engels on Religion (Marxists Internet Archive)
“Comprehensive index to references to Religion from the Works of Marx and Engels.”

Karl Marx
(Marxists Internet Archive)

On The Jewish Question (1844)

Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1844)
Quotation:
“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and also the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” See also the article in Danish

Critical Sociology

Reading ‘Opiums of the People’. By Andrew M. McKinnon (Vol.31, No.1-2, 2005, p.15-38).
“Marx’s phrase ‘opium of the people’ is one of the most frequently quoted lines he ever wrote; perhaps because of that, it has been just as frequently misunderstood. By returning to the various meanings of opium in the mid-19th century, I revisit Marx’s analysis …”

Historical Materialism

Marx, Engels & Theology. By Roland Boer (2017). A Reading Guide:
“The following collection begins with Marx, drawing occasionally on joint works with Engels, before focusing in the last two sections on Engels’s life-long interest in religion.”

The International Humanist-Marxist

Marxism and Religion: a complete and annotated bibliography (pdf). By Roland Boer
(December 1, 2012)
“The following collection begins with Marx, drawing occasionally on joint works with Engels, before focusing in the last two sections on Engels’s life-long interest in religion.”

Mikhail Bakunin
(Marxists Internet Archive)

God and the State (1871)
“Bakunin’s most famous work, published in various lengths … this version is the most complete form of the work published hitherto.”

Nikolai Bukharin
(Marxists Internet Archive)

Communism and Religion. With Preobrazhensky. Chapter 11 in The ABC of Communism (1920)
Contents: Why religion and communism are incompatible – Separation of the church from the state – Separation of the school from the church – Struggle with the religious prejudice of the masses.

Church and school in the Soviet Republic (1919)
“One of the instruments for the obscuring of the consciousness of the people is the belief in God and the devil, in good and evil spirits, angels, saints, etc., in short – religion.”

James Connolly
(Marxists Internet Archive)

Labour, nationality and religion (1910)
Contents: The problem stated – The rights of man – The honour of the home – The suicide of a nation – God or mammon – The firebrand or the olive leaf.

V.I. Lenin
(Marxists Internet Archive)

The attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion (1909)
“We must combat religion – that is the ABC of all materialism, and consequently of Marxism. But Marxism is not a materialism which has stopped at the ABC. Marxism goes further. It says: We must know how to combat religion, and in order to do so we must explain the source of faith and religion among the masses in a materialist way.”

Socialism and Religion (1905)
“Religion must be of no concern to the state, and religious societies must have no connection with governmental authority. Everyone must be absolutely free to profess any religion he pleases, or no religion whatever, i.e., to be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule. Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable.”

Rosa Luxemburg
(Marxists Internet Archive)

An anti-clerical policy of Socialism (1903)
“That ‘religion is a private affair’ only compels us to be neutral and not to take part in religious questions, when these only refer to intimate convictions and to the conscience … In the name of liberty of conscience, we demand the abolition of all public privileges which believers enjoy to the disadvantage of unbelievers, and we will assail all efforts attempted by the Church to become a dominating power in the State.”

Socialism and the Churches (1905)
“The Social-Democracy in no way fights against religious beliefs. On the contrary, it demands complete freedom of conscience for every individual and the widest possible toleration for every faith and every opinion. But, from the moment when the priests use the pulpit as a means of political struggle against the working classes, the workers must fight against the enemies of their rights and their liberation.”

Tom Mann
(Marxists Internet Archive)

A socialist’s view of religion and the churches (1896)
“The fact is, preachers and congregation are bound hard and fast in a system that is grossly materialistic, utterly soulless in good, and without a single noble aspiration.”

Anton Pannekoek
(Marxists Internet Archive)

Socialism and Religion (1907)
“The declaration that religion is a private matter is … an expression of the clearly scientific nature and aim of our struggle, a necessary consequence of our materialist theory of history, and only our materialism is able to give a scientific vindication of this demand.”

Leon Trotsky
(Workers Liberty)

How socialists fight Religion (1924)
“In this article Leon Trotsky discusses the Bolsheviks’ efforts to break the grip of religion on the people of Russia after the workers’ revolution of 1917.”
Extracts from the speech: ‘Leninism and Workers’ Clubs’ (July 17, 1924). – in: Problems of everyday life (Pathfinder, 1973, p. 308-313).


 

On Islam

The Clash of Fundamentalisms

The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity
By Tariq Ali (London, Verso, 2002, 342 pages). See Extracts:

Letter to a young Muslim (CounterPunch, April 25, 2002)
“Remember when you approached me after the big antiwar meeting in November 2001 (I think it was Glasgow) and asked whether I was a believer? I have not forgotten the shock you registered when I replied no’, or the comment of your friend (‘our parents warned us against you’), or the angry questions which the pair of you then began to hurl at me like darts. All of that made me think, and this is my reply for you and all the others like you who asked similar questions elsewhere in Europe and North America.”

Mullahs and Heretics (London Review of Books, Vol. 24, No. 3, 7 February 2002)
“There were many advantages in being an unbeliever. Threatened with divine sanctions by family retainers, cousins or elderly relatives – ‘If you do that Allah will be angry’ or ‘If you don’t do this Allah will punish you’ – I was unmoved. Let him do his worst, I used to tell myself, but he never did, and that reinforced my belief in his non-existence.”
Also online at CounterPunch: Mullahs and heretics: A secular history of Islam (October 17-19, 2014)

Counterfire

Chris Bambery: The moon and stars: Bolshevism and Islam (February 15, 2017)
“The young Soviet Union took measures which were radical in giving power to indigenous people, including the Muslim peoples of Central Asia.”

Debunking the ‘clash of civilisations’ (February 11, 2015)
“We need to refute the idea that we’re living through a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ between the West and Islam – it’s dangerous bunkum argues Chris Bambery.”

Critical Muslim

Critical Muslim. “A quarterly magazine of ideas and issues showcasting groundbreaking thinking on Islam … We aim to challenge traditionalist, modernist, fundamentalist and apologetic versions of Islam, and attempt to set out new readings of religion and culture with the potential for social, cultural and political transformation of the Muslim world.”

Cultural Logic

Maryam El-Shall: Salafi Utopia: the making of the Islamic state (Vol. 9, 2006)
“I argue that Salafi’s envisioned society is utopian precisely for its impossibility, for its purely imaginative status. Indeed, the memory of Islam’s Golden Age is complete fantasy, a product of selective memory … It was a utopic moment in the history of Islam precisely because it never really existed, except in the contemporary Salafi imagination.”

International Socialism

Dave Crouch: The Bolsheviks and Islam (Issue 110, Spring 2006, p.37-59)
“I shall try to show that Bolshevik policy from 1917 to the mid-1920s was radically different from the witchhunt that Stalin launched against Islam from 1927 …”

Neil Faulkner: Crusade and jihad in the medieval Middle East (Issue 109, Winter 2006, p. 127-142)
“Crusades was the word George Bush used as he launched his first attack on Afghanistan … Neil Faulkner explains what lay behind the Crusades – and behind their defeat at the hands of jihad.”

Chris Harman: The prophet and the proletariat (Issue 64, Autumn 1994, p. 3-63)
“The left has not known how to react to what it sees as an obscurantist doctrine, backed by traditionally reactionary forces, enjoying success among some of the poorest groups in society. Two opposed approaches have resulted. The first has been to see Islamism as Reaction Incarnate, as a form of fascism … The opposite approach has been to see the Islamist movements as ‘progressive’, ‘anti-imperialist’ movements of the oppressed … I want to argue that both positions are wrong. They fail to locate the class character of modern Islamism or to see its relationship to capital, the state and imperialism.”

International Socialist Review

Deepa Kumar: Islam and Islamophobia (Issue 52, March–April 2007)
“Islamophobia in its current form derives from a body of knowledge known as ‘Orientalist’ thought, which came into being in the late eighteenth century, and it is here we must turn in order to understand the roots of Islamophobia.”

Sharon Smith: Women and Islam (Issue 35, May–June 2004)
Contents:
Hijab ban: Racist hypocrisy – Imperialism does not ‘liberate’ women – Islam and resistance to imperialism – Religion, class society, and women’s oppression – Marxism and religion – The Russian Revolution – Conclusion: Past and present.

International Viewpoint

Tariq Ali: The anti-imperialist left confronted with Islam (Issue 376, March 2006)
“The following interview with Tariq Ali was conducted by Alex De Jong and Paul Mepschen of the SAP (Dutch section of the Fourth International) at the Ernest Mandel symposium held in Brussels in November 2005.”

Gilbert Achcar: Eleven theses on the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism (2006)
“Given the renewed discussion, we are producing this 1981 document, which stands the test of time. The ‘theses’ were circulated widely and have been translated into many languages. Their success was due to the fact that they gave a Marxist analysis of a phenomenon that was then still relatively new. The current resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism dates from the 1970s, and reached its first crescendo, after years of underground activity, with the Iranian revolution of 1979.”

Salma Yaqoob: Islam and the left (Issue 371, October 2005)
“Salma Yaqoob is a founder member of Respect and a leading Muslim anti-war activist in Britain. Here she was speaking at the SWP’s Marxism event in London a few days after the London bombings on July 7,­ an event which was naturally dominating politics at that point – in the session on Muslims and the left.”

Islam and the Left: a reply to Salma Yaqoob(2005)
“An Iranian reader takes sharp issue with Salma Yaqoob’s October article on Islam and the left.”

Jacobin

Marx and the Prophet: An interview with Gilbert Achcar (April 14, 2019)
“On why the rise of fundamentalism in Muslim-majority countries owes much to the failings of the secular left.”

Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture

Abdelwahab Meddeb: Islam and the Enlightenment: between ebb and flow (Vol. 5, Issue 3, Fall 2006)
“Islam can be doubly associated with the spirit of the Enlightenment. Long before, as early as the middle of the eighth century, it produced the premises of the Enlightenment; afterwards, starting in the nineteenth century, it experienced its effects.”

Marxists Internet Archive

Minutes of the Congress of the Peoples of the East (Baku, September 1920). With Foreword by Tom Kemp (February 1977).
Seventh Session: On Rights of Women (September 7, 1920)

V.I. Lenin: Draft Theses on National and Colonial Questions. For the Second Congress of the Communist International (5 June, 1920)
“With regard to the more backward states and nations, in which feudal or patriarchal and patriarchal-peasant relations predominate, it is particularly important to bear in mind: the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc.” (In Danish).
See also:

Minutes of the Fourth Session (July 25, 1920) with Lenin’s Report on National and Colonial Question and M.N. Roy’s Supplementary Theses.

Minutes of the Fifth Session (July 28, 1920) with Discussion on National and Colonial Question + the final Theses on the National and Colonial Question.

M.N. Roy: Historical role of Islam: an essay on Islamic culture (1939)
Contents: The mission of Islam – Social and historical background of Islam – The causes of triumph – Mohammad and his teachings – Islamic philosophy – Islam and India.

The Meek and the Militant

The Meek and the Militant: Religion and power across the world
By Paul N. Siegel (London, Zed Books, 1986, 229 pages).
Chapter 9: Islam.
Contents:
The social origins of Islam – The effect of its social origins on Islam – Islam and the tribal ethics and religion of the Arabs – Islam, Judaism, and Christianity – The expansion of Islam – The zenith of Islamic civilization – The development and decline of Islamic civilization – Islamic sects – Islam and the anti-imperalist struggle – Islam and modernization – Islam and reaction.

MR Online

Juan Goytisolo: Voltaire and Islam (January 24, 2007)
“The call [of Voltaire] is in general terms just and merits our support, but it demands a series of qualifications, not only for the variety of existing situations in the Muslim world, but also for the multiplicity of positions, often contradictory, that Voltaire takes on the subject.”

Muhammed

Mohammed (pdf). Translated from the French [1961] by Anne Carter (Penguin, 1971, 361 p.; online at Almuslih.org).
Bogen på svensk: Muhammed: Om profetens liv och Islams uppkomst (pdf) (Gidlund, 1981, 194 s.; online på Marxistarkiv.se).
The book were forbidden at the American University in Cairo 1998: Non-State Attacks on Academic Freedom: The Islamist Factor (Human Rights Watch, June 2005)

New Left Review

Riddles of the book (Issue 86, March-April 2014). Perry Anderson interviews Suleiman Mourad.
“A scholar of Islamic history discusses the formation and trajectory of the last great Abrahamic religion. Tensions between ecumenicism and jihad, pan-Islamism and division of the umma, and a bleak present of recrudescent sectarianism.”
See also: Islamism and the Contemporary Arab World (Verso Blog, 17 January 2017). Extract (p.86-93) from Suleiman Mourad: The Mosaic of Islam: A Conversation with Perry Anderson (Verso, 2016, 164 p.). The book is a revised edition of the New Left Review article above.

OpenDemocracy

Islamic Reformation? By Sami Zubaida (5 January 2016)
“We keep hearing calls for an ‘Islamic Reformation’, but the Protestant Reformation was not a liberal enterprise: it was the original ‘fundamentalism’, whence the label now applied to Islam.”

Socialist Review

Interview: Tariq Ali (Issue 311, November 2006)
“Tariq Ali challenges the myth that Islam is incompatible with the West in his four novels about the Muslim world and Europe. He discussed them with Talat Ahmed.”

Neil Davidson: Islam and the Enlightenment (Issue 304, March 2006)
“The intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th century that became known as the Enlightenment helped a new class to come to power in Europe. Neil Davidson asks why the more advanced civilisations of the Islamic world did not develop a similar movement of their own.” + Letter by John Game: What colonialism did for them (Issue 305, April 2006).

Socialist Worker

Neil Faulkner: Crusade and jihad (Issue 1953, 28 May 2005)
“Neil Faulkner examines the medieval precursor of imperialism in the Middle East.”

State of Nature

Theme: Religion in the modern world (Issue 1, Autumn 2005). On Islam:

An interview with M. Shahid Alam
“M. Shahid Alam was born in Bangladesh and moved to Pakistan in 1971, and received his PhD in economics from Canada in 1979. His political essays have been featured in Dawn (Pakistan), The Nation (Pakistan), Al-Ahram (Egypt), The Star (Bangladesh), CounterPunch (USA), Commondreams (USA), and others.”

An interview with Mehdi Kia
“Mehdi Kia is a political activist and co-editor of Iran Bulletin-Middle East Forum. The journal is a political quarterly in defence of democracy and socialism in the Middle East.”

Weekly Worker

Jack Conrad: Origins of islam: religion and class (Issue 467, February 13, 2003)
“This article has nothing much to say that is directly contemporary. It is unashamedly historical. However, the intention is to call into question some widely held notions about islam. Certainly the aim is to undermine the ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis, by which islam is painted as inherently backward and violent. By equal measure I want to show that the origins and fundamental texts of islam are not divine, but are thoroughly human and can only be properly explained in historical and materialist terms.”

What Next?

Tan Malaka: Communism and Pan-Islamism (Issue 21, 2001)
“This is an extract from a speech made by the Indonesian Marxist Tan Malaka at the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922. Taking issue with the theses drafted by Lenin and adopted at the Second Congress, which had emphasised the need for a ‘struggle against Pan-Islamism’, Tan Malaka argued for a more positive approach.”

Workers Liberty
ZNet

Pervez Hoodbhoy: Science and the Islamic world: the quest for rapprochement (August 3, 2007)
“Internal causes led to the decline of Islam’s scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong.”


 

Encyclopedias/Sites


 

On Christianity

Counterfire

Neil Faulkner: Jesus Christ: revolutionary (28 October 2011)
“In this edited extract from his book The Jewish Revolt Neil Faulkner argues that Jesus was a revolutionary.”

CounterPunch

Eric Walberg: The Bible and Middle East history: colonizing a metaphor (December 3, 2007)
“What do modern archaeology and other sciences have to say about the Bible? Does it help us resolve the question of the validity of Jesus as a legitimate messiah, one who would end Judaism and found a truly universal religion for all mankind? Does it allow Judaism a new lease on life, providing proof of the existence of a Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates, with a spectacular and ancient history? And are we fated to die in a fiery apocalypse as predicted in Revelations?”

Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres

Michael Löwy: Liberation Theology Marxism (2000)
“The discovery of Marxism by progressive Christians and liberation theology was not a purely intellectual or academic process. Its starting point was an unavoidable social fact, a massive, brutal reality in Latin America: poverty.”

Foundations of Christianity

Foundations of Christianity. By Karl Kautsky (1908; Russell and Russell, 1953)
“Christianity and Bible criticism are themes I have long been concerned with … I do not of course claim to have exhausted the subject. It is too gigantic for that. I shall be content if I have succeeded in contributing to the understanding of those aspects of Christianity that seem to me to be the decisive ones from the point of view of the materialistic conception of history.” See also:

Karl Kautsky: The death of Jesus (Workers Liberty, Issue 59, December 1999)
“The hodgepodge of moral maxims and miraculous deeds which is offered by the Gospels as a report on these activities is so full of impossible and obviously fabricated material, and has so little that can be borne out by other evidence, that it cannot be used as a source.”

Ernest Belfort Bax: Kautsky’s Origins of Christianity (The Social Democrat, Vol. XIII, No. 10, October 15, 1909)
“Apart from the vigour and interest of its literary presentation and marshalling of historical facts, Kautsky’s book is remarkable … for its thorough-going and consistent attempt to reduce Christian origins and the phenomena connected with them to economic causes.”

Sean Matgamna: 2000 years of anti-Jewish lies (Workers Liberty, Issue 59, December 1999)
“As the classic Marxist writer Karl Kautsky shows in the excerpt from his book ‘The Foundations of Christianity’ on the following pages, the New Testament writers set out, deliberately and systematically, to demonise the Jews and foment hatred against them as the murderers of Christ. They did it by inventing fantastic and self-contradictory tales about the death of Christ.”

Alan Woods: On Kautsky’s Foundations of Christianity, Part One (In Defence of Marxism, 23 September 2011) + Part 2 (14 October) + Part 3 (9 December) + Part 4 (21 December)
” … the republication of The Foundations of Christianity in German is a most timely decision. This work deserves a far wider audience than it has had … Kautsky’s book is a masterpiece of the method of historical materialism.”

In Defence of Marxism

John Pickard: Foundations of Christianity (23 December 2009)
“Pickard looks at the reality of how this religion came about – from the standpoint of class forces and the material developments of society, rather than by the pious fictions fed from church pulpits.”

International Socialism

Paul Blackledge: Not just opium (Issue 113, Winter 2007, p. 191-194). A review of Scott Mann, Heart of a Heartless World: Religion as Ideology (1999)
“Mann’s book includes fascinating discussions of how the image of god changed through history; from the worship of the goddess in pre-class societies in Europe to the overthrow of this religion and its replacement by male gods following the emergence of class societies after the last ice age. He also has interesting things to say about the rise of Catholicism and Protestantism, and even an entertaining, if speculative, discussion of Jesus.”

Neil Davidson: Enlightenment and anti-capitalism (Issue 110, Spring 2006, p. 85-112)
“The Enlightenment was an intellectual and social movement which, like the Renaissance and the Reformation before it, characterised a specific historical period, in this case beginning in the middle decades of the 17th century and ending over 200 years ago, at the end of the 18th century. Yet it remains at the heart of current concerns in a way that, for example, Reformation debates over predestination do not. The Enlightenment remains a contemporary issue and not merely a historical one.”

Neil Faulkner: Crusade and jihad in the medieval Middle East (Issue 109, Winter 2006, p. 127-142)
“Crusades was the word George Bush used as he launched his first attack on Afghanistan … Neil Faulkner explains what lay behind the Crusades – and behind their defeat at the hands of jihad.”

John Rose: Jesus: history’s most famous missing person (Issue 85, Winter 1999, p. 73-85)
“The Millennium seems a good movement to examine the event that defines the Christian calendar, the birth of Jesus. John Rose examines the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus in the context of social conflict in the Roman Empire.”

Notebooks for Study and Research

Michael Löwy: Marxism and Liberation Theology (No.10, 1988, 40 p.)
“The emergence of revolutionary Christianity and liberation theology in Latin America opened a new chapter and posed exciting new questions. Michael Löwy argues that these developments demand a renewal of the Marxist analysis of religion.”

OpenDemocracy

Islamic Reformation? By Sami Zubaida (5 January 2016)
“We keep hearing calls for an ”˜Islamic Reformation’, but the Protestant Reformation was not a liberal enterprise: it was the original ”˜fundamentalism’, whence the label now applied to Islam.”

The origins of Christianity

The Origins of Christianity. By Archibald Robertson (International Publishers, 1954/1962)
Contents:
How man made God – Who were the Jews? – The kingdom of the son of man – The Jews in the Roman Empire – The legend of Jesus Christ – Paul – The break with Judaism – The birth of the Catholic Church – Appendix on The Dead Sea Scrolls.

Socialist Worker

The Protestant Revolution: the rival religions of princes and peasants (Issue 2068, 15 September 2007)
“Alberto Toscano casts a critical eye over a new BBC history series on the Protestant movement.”

SocialistWorker.org

Phil Gasper: Jesus the revolutionary? (December 14, 2011)
“How close are the views of right-wing politicians who proclaim their Christian beliefs to the historical Jesus who opposed kings and oppressors?”

Spiked Review of Books

Michael Fitzpatrick: Was Jesus a revolutionary? (No. 8, December 2007)
“In our age of vulgar atheistic polemics, Catholic-turned-Marxist Terry Eagleton brings a rare combination of intellectual depth and seriousness to his study of the gospels. But humanity will not find salvation in the ”˜Good Book’.

The Unrepented Marxist

Liberation theology. By Louis Proyect (January 9, 2007)
“Is Marxism hostile to liberation theology? … A careful reading of the socialist press will reveal very little prejudice against liberation theology, except predictably from the lunatic fringe.”

Weekly Worker

After king Jesus, Supplement (Issue 1184, 21 December 2017)
“It was Paul who founded Christianity, a religion that in many ways upholds doctrines which are the exact opposite of the real teachings of Jesus. Jack Conrad sifts through the evidence.”

Jack Conrad: Jesus – armed and dangerous (Issue 1136, 22 December 2016)
“Forget the virgin birth, the stable, the wondrous star, the shepherds and the wise men, the massacre of the innocents and the angel of the lord telling Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt. All pure invention. Jesus was an apocalyptic revolutionary.”

After the death of Jesus (Issue 1052, 2 April 2015)
“According to western Christian mythology, Jesus died on Good Friday and came back to life three days later on what we now call Easter Monday. But, argues Jack Conrad, Jesus and his first followers were not Christians, but Jewish revolutionaries. It was Paul who invented Christianity.”

Neither meek nor mild (Issue1039, 18 December 2014)
“Jesus was a rabbi, a communist and a brave revolutionary, argues Jack Conrad.”

Jack Conrad: Religion, class struggles, and revolution in ancient Judea, Supplement I
(Issue 827, July 22, 2010) + Supplement II: Peasant socialism and the persistence of polytheism (Issue 828, July 29, 2010) + Supplement III: Royalist nationalism, opposition prophets, and the impact of exile and return (Issue 829, August 5, 2010)
“The aim of this three-part study is to locate the main internal and external factors involved in bringing about the Jerusalem temple cult described in the New Testament, in which, of course, Jesus and his party participated and sought to purify through their audacious actions.”

Uses and abuses of Jesus (Issue 702, December 20, 2007)
“Even in the 21st century Jesus is still a much prized figure. In this the second chapter of his new book [Fantastic reality: Marxism and the politics of religion] (London, JC Publications, 2007, 528 p.) Jack Conrad shows how Jesus has been used and abused by almost every political persuasion.”

Jesus: a revolutionary and a communist (Issue 525, April 22, 2004)
“Jack Conrad presents a communist analysis of Jesus.”

Jack Conrad: Christianity and the decline of Rome, Supplement (Issue 365, December 21, 2000)
“In writing this third supplement my aim is to show how, having emerged as a split from the Jesus movement, Pauline Christianity rapidly proliferated throughout the Roman empire to the stage where it counted as a physical power, almost a state within a state, and therefore a potential theocratic rival to the emperor and his authority. Religious toleration was cast aside.”

Jack Conrad: James and the genesis of Christianity (Issue 318, January 13, 2000)
“In writing this supplement my intention is to find the real Jesus and show how Christianity emerged as a split from the Jesus movement.
See also:

Jack Conrad: Religion, class struggles, and revolution in ancient Judea, Supplement I
(Issue 827, July 22, 2010) + Peasant socialism and the persistence of polytheism, Supplement II (Issue 828, July 29, 2010) + Royalist nationalism, opposition prophets, and the impact of exile and return, Supplement III (Issue 829, August 5, 2010)
“The aim of this three-part study is to locate the main internal and external factors involved in bringing about the Jerusalem temple cult described in the New Testament, in which, of course, Jesus and his party participated and sought to purify through their audacious actions.”

Workers Liberty

Sean Matgamna: Political Islam, Christian Fundamentalism, Marxism and the Left today (4 October 2013)
“The question of how socialists relate to religion, including to those religions which criticise aspects of capitalism, is again of great importance.”


 

Encyclopedias / Sites


 

On Judaism

Marxists Internet Archive

Jews, Marxism and the worker’s movement
“A subject index of texts from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Leon and Luxemburg; texts from the Jewish Socialist & Labor Movement and the impact of the Russian Revolution on Jews.”

Against the Current

Peter Drucker: Marxism and the fate of the European Jews (Issue 65, November-December 1996). Review of Enzo Traverso, The Marxists and the Jewish Question: The History of a Debate, 1843-1943 (1994)
“An excellent book on the subject has been translated into English and published. Enzo Traverso’s book is valuable not only for what it says about Jews in one region or one period, though it is particularly strong on Eastern European Jews and their role in the workers movement in the early 20th century. It is the first attempt at a comprehensive survey of what Marxists wrote about Jews and anti-semitism up until the mid-20th century.”

Are the Jews a Race?

Are the Jews a Race? By Karl Kautsky (1914).
Are the Jews a Race? now appears for the first time in English. The first German edition appeared in 1914, under the title Rasse and Judentum; the second edition, in 1921, already included a number of important additions and improvements, particularly the new chapter entitled Zionism After the War; for the present English version [1926], the author has revised and brought up to date the second German edition, in the light of recent developments in Palestine.”

CounterPunch

Eric Walberg: The Bible and Middle East history: colonizing a metaphor (December 3, 2007)
“What do modern archaeology and other sciences have to say about the Bible? Does it help us resolve the question of the validity of Jesus as a legitimate messiah, one who would end Judaism and found a truly universal religion for all mankind? Does it allow Judaism a new lease on life, providing proof of the existence of a Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates, with a spectacular and ancient history? And are we fated to die in a fiery apocalypse as predicted in Revelations?”

Engage

Robert Fine: Karl Marx and the radical critique of Anti-Semitism (Issue 2, May 2006; online at Internet Archive WayBackMachine)
“Marx affirmed the claim of Jews to full civil and political rights regardless of whether or not they choose to remain Jewish.”

In Defence of Marxism

Yossi Schwartz: The origins of the Jews (15 December 2003):
Part One: Introduction
Part Two: The rise of Anti-Semitism
Part Three: Anti-Semitism and Zionism
Part Four: The Russian Revolution: Bolshevism, the Bund, and Stalinism

International Socialism

John Rose: Karl Marx, Abram Leon and the Jewish Question – a reappraisal (International Socialism, Issue 119, Summer 2008, p.121-143)
“Abram Leon … wrote a classic Marxist study, The Jewish Question, before dying in Auschwitz. John Rose points out the relevance and importance of the arguments in the book, but suggest they need some amending in the light of recent historical research.”

The Invention of the Jewish People

The Invention of the Jewish People. By Shlomo Sand (Verso, 2009, 400 p.)
“Leading Israeli historian evaluates the national myth of the Jewish exile from the promised land.” See Link collection at Socialist Library: Shlomo Sand & The Invention of the Jewish People (Socialistisk Bibliotek).

The Jewish Question

The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation. By Abram Leon (1946) (New York, Pathfinder, 1970, 270 pages).
“Writing in the shadow of Nazi occupation, the possibility of conforming his work on the Jewish question to certain formal standards of scholarship simply did not exist for the author. In making the English translation of his work, considerable time and effort were devoted to locating and identifying Leon’s source material and quotations, so as to eliminate, insofar as possible, this purely technical shortcoming.”

Michael Cooke: Marx on the ‘Jewish question’: anti-Semitic or a cogent critique of liberalism (July 2, 2013)
“Marx was not a self-hating Jew. He was using the language of the day. As Hal Draper pointed out in painstaking detail, Marx, in making Jews and Judaism synonymous with huckstering and usury, was borrowing the language of Moses Hess, one of the founders of Zionism, in an article published around the same time as that of Marx.”

New Politics

Debate: Anti-Semitism and Socialism (2007-2008; online at Internet Archive WayBackMachine)
“In New Politics No. 43, Sherry Gorelick reviewed Mario Kessler’s book, On Anti-Semitism and Socialism. David Finkel replied in the next issue. Bennett Muraskin and Sherry Gorelick then replied to Finkel.”

Deutscher and the Jews: on the Non-Jewish Jew””an analysis and personal reflection. By Samuel Farber (New Politics, Issue 56, Winter 2014). See the text by Isaac Deutscher: Message of the Non-Jewish Jew (1958) (Marxists Internet Archive)

Reds – Die Roten

Marx on the Jewish Question
Appendix from Nathan Weinstock: Zionism: False Messiah (Ink Links, 1979; online at th Internet Archive WayBackMachine).
“Marx’s retort was that Jewish emancipation is a social question, not a religious one; the political emancipation of the Jews is a necessary condition for human emancipation but it remains a political emancipation within the framework of the prevailing social order.”

Hal Draper: Marx and the Economic-Jew Stereotype
From Hal Draper: Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol.1: State and Bureaucracy (New York, Monthly Review, 1977, p. 591-608).
“There is a bulky output of literature alleging that Marx’s essay On the Jewish Question is anti-Semitic because it equates Jewry with the spirit of money-making, the merchant-huckster, preoccupation with self-interest and egoism-that is, with the commercialism of the new bourgeois order.”

Socialist Register

David Ruben: Marxism and the Jewish Question (1982, p. 205-237)
“A number of interrelated questions about Jewry, collectively referred to as ‘the Jewish question’, have been discussed by many Marxists, beginning with Marx himself in his essay, ‘On the Jewish Question’.”

Weekly Worker

Marx and Jewish emancipation (Issue 1242, March 14, 2019)
“By citing a few thoroughly decontextualised phrases, the establishment finds Marx – and therefore contemporary Marxism – guilty of anti-Semitism. Jack Conrad puts the record straight.”

Jack Conrad: Everything in socio-economic context (Issue 1097, 10 March 2016)
“By equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, the bourgeois establishment is determined to brand a racist anyone who dares criticise the Israeli state. Ahistorically plucking out a few phrases from On the Jewish question, it levels the exact same charge against Marx too.”

Jack Conrad: Religion, class struggles, and revolution in ancient Judea, Supplement I
(Issue 827, July 22, 2010) + Peasant socialism and the persistence of polytheism, Supplement II (Issue 828, July 29, 2010) + Royalist nationalism, opposition prophets, and the impact of exile and return, Supplement III (Issue 829, August 5, 2010)
“The aim of this three-part study is to locate the main internal and external factors involved in bringing about the Jerusalem temple cult described in the New Testament, in which, of course, Jesus and his party participated and sought to purify through their audacious actions.”

Gerry Downing: The sigh of the oppressed (Issue 658, February 1, 2007)
“Gerry Downing looks at the origins of monotheism and assesses the attitude of communists towards believers.”

ZNet

Anti-Semitism Debates (2003-2004; online at Internet Archive WayBackMachine)
“Critics of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip face accusations of Anti-semitism. Here ZNet has collected some of the discussions on anti-semitism; some writers’ responses to charges of anti-semitism; and some reactions and context.”


 

Encyclopedia / Sites

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